At the midway point in the season, the Lynx appear to have found their stride. At the very least, they took another big step forward Friday.
Led by its two Olympians, Minnesota scored a 90-89 upset overtime victory over Las Vegas at Target Center on Pride Night.
Sylvia Fowles tallied 30 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, four blocks and four steals — her second consecutive monster performance — while Napheesa Collier added 23 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, two blocks and two steals as Minnesota knocked over the top team in the WNBA.
Layshia Clarendon was also excellent, adding 20 points on 10-for-15 shooting.
The victory looked as though it would come in regulation. The Lynx were in control for much of the second half, only to have Las Vegas (10-4) storm back in the final few minutes. The Aces closed regulation on a 9-0 run — one in which Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve didn’t think her team got a very friendly whistle compared to the calls the Aces were getting — capped by a pair of free throws from A’Ja Wilson, who had 28 points and 14 rebounds.
Liz Cambage added 18 points and 20 boards for Las Vegas. The post matchups featuring Fowles and Collier for Minnesota and Wilson and Cambage for Las Vegas would have made old-school basketball fans light up.
“Obviously, we know that Vegas’ identity, and we’ve kind of found it to be our identity and we’re doing a really good job being more persistent, just being able to answer and get the ball where we want to get the ball and be persistent about it,” Reeve said. “We want to make them have to defend the same way we felt like we were going to have to defend, and I thought we had some success. Fifty-four points in the paint against these guys, pretty darn impressive for our frontcourt.”
Minnesota (7-7) responded in the extra session. Clarendon scored the first four points for the Lynx, while Fowles scored the final four.
Down one with 27 seconds to play, Las Vegas elected not to foul Minnesota, instead playing for the three-second clock differential between the shot clock and game clock. Clarendon missed a long triple late in the clock, but the rebound wasn’t corralled before the clock expired.
“I think it shows that we are right there, even though our record might not reflect it and how we play sometimes doesn’t reflect it,” Collier said. “This really gives us confidence saying that we’re a good team, and we just need to stay not doing ups and downs, but stay on a high and continue to do what works for us.”